Friday, January 29, 2010

Pacific Waters Spa

If you live in the Los Angeles area and you are looking for something a notch above a staycation, I would recommend a weekend at the Hyatt Huntington Beach Resort & Spa. It's close to the beach but everything you need to have a fun, relaxing weekend is right there at the hotel - including a heated pool, direct access to the beach, surf pros, biking, Camp Hyatt and more. (Camp Hyatt is the resort’s supervised activity program for children ages 3-12 years old.) The resort also has a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant "The Californian" and Pete's Sunset Grille with Live Entertainment among its dining options. I was fortunate enough to be invited for a mom blogger spa evening at the resort spa Pacific Waters Spa, courtesy of the company.

We broke up into small groups to go to different stations to introduce us to the spa's services and amenities. I was in the yellow group and we started out with the basic manicure. That included all the hand massage and treatment sans nail polish. They use all natural Epicuren products to massage your hands which is definitely a step up from the neighborhood nail salons. This is our group photo after the manicure, can you tell that our hands are fabulous?

Next we moved on to two stations where they showed us how to make at-home spa treatments. The Mocha Latte Wrap was my favorite of the two:
Mocha Latte Wrap

2 Tbsp ground coffee

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

3 Tbsp coconut butter

Plastic Wrap

Mix food ingredients in a small bowl. Apply in light circular motion on desired area. Wrap area lightly in plastic wrap for approximately 10 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and rinse treated area thoroughly in warm shower.


Then we moved on to sample the spa menu. Everything was delicious! Perhaps it was because we were all so hungry but we all loved the food, and it being healthy was an added bonus. I tried not to eat too much because we had the mini-facial and mini-massage coming up as our last station. If you get a facial there, definitely ask for Gloria. She was really careful to use the right products on my Asian face. It was only a 15 minute facial but she gave me good tips on what to use and made my face feel better. The massage was also 15 minutes but I say any number of minutes is better than zero when it comes to a massage. It made me want to get a full length one in the near future.

The Spa offers 3 and 6 month memberships. The 3 month seasonal membership ($375) comes with 3 60-minute spa services and access to spa amenities for 3 months: private locker, robe and slippers, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi, quiet room, and co-ed spa patio. It also gets you use of the main resort pool, valet parking, 20% discount on full-priced spa services, 20% retail discount at the spa and Aesthetyx (the resort gift shop), and 20% off food and beverage. The 6 month membership ($675) comes with the same features plus an additional 3 60-minute spa treatments. If I lived closer, I would consider it because the cost of two 60-minute massages at a full service spa elsewhere would almost be the same price as the 3 month seasonal membership. The atmosphere is nicer and more relaxing than other places I've been to in the LA area, including the Bliss Spa at the Westin Beverly Hills and the Glen Ivy in Corona.

If you would like to try the Pacific Waters Spa, please go to its Facebook page and become a fan. If you post on their wall that you were referred by Eunice at RandomWalkDownMommyStreet, you will get a coupon for 20% off any 60-minute treatment.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Go Green Expo

On Friday I attended the Go Green Expo Los Angeles. I was enticed by the press release, which stated that the Tesla Roadster would be on display. If you haven't heard or seen the Tesla before, it is the best electric, zero emission car out there. It can go 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds and 244 miles on a single charge. It is sleek, it is fast, it is awe-inspiring. I've seen the same yellow Tesla driving around my neighborhood and it is really a sight to behold. It is so quiet, you can't even hear it go past you. So I was really excited to go and check it out. But SNAP, it was NOT there! Maybe it was there on Saturday and Sunday but it wasn't there on Friday, when mostly press were in attendance. I did see some other interested things, though. Here are some of them:

Sea Snax-this is the same seaweed that Koreans have been eating with their rice for hundreds of years. But now it's being touted as a snack to the US market. No Korean would buy this regularly as it retails for $8. You can get the same 3/$10 at major Korean supermarkets. I did have to show my support for my fellow Koreans, though, for taking the risk in bringing this to the American market and bought a package.

Stainless Steel Baby Bottle-I think the whole BPA free trend has gone a bit too far. Now everyone is going to abandon their $10 Born Free baby bottles and switch to stainless steel. I haven't tried it so I don't know if this line of baby bottles and sports bottles from Canadian company organicKidz is any good, but I have a hard time drinking something I can't see and I would have an even harder time giving it to my baby. Especially if you are giving the baby formula--I've definitely made the mistake of putting in not enough formula or too much. You can tell you've made a mistake when the bottle is clear, so I would have a hard time trusting myself with stainless steel.

Food wipes-I love this concept. It's the only all natural line of food wipes, perfect if you are on the go and decide to eat an apple, pear or some other similar type fruit. You can carry them with you and then you have the option of buying a piece of fruit at the convenience stand instead of defaulting to a package of processed food because you can't wash the fruit. Why didn't anyone think of this before? The company Eat Cleaner also has fruit and vegetable wash that you can use at home.

Mamapalooza-H&R's favorite booth. I think the photo speaks for itself.

There were other neat products offered (like reusable green car filter and green roadside assistance) so check out the Go Green website to see if the expo is coming to your city. The boys also loved the Wii Fit Plus booth but I'm not really sure how that is related to being green. I did not receive any products or compensation for this post. I did receive complimentary entrance to the expo as a member of the press.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Santa Barbara Rain Out

Sunday we skipped church and went on an ill-fated excursion to Santa Barbara. We've lived here for 20 months now and we've only been to San Diego as a daytrip so decided to take advantage of the 3 day weekend (Stewart was off on Monday). Except God saw our unfaithfulness and poured buckets of rain so all we did was eat lunch and come home. Lunch was at Julia Child's favorite taco stand, La Super Rica Taqueria, in SB, but I prefer the Kogi Truck. One tip, if you need extra tortillas with your food, just ask them and they will give them to you. Of course, I didn't find this out until we were leaving and I asked them how much an extra tortilla would be.

Before heading back, we were out of gas so we decided to drive 10 miles in the wrong direction to get gas at the Goleta Costco. Surprise, surprise, NO gas station at that Costco. We did find the local farmers market. I couldn't resist and strapped R into the Ergo to take a look. (Stewart and H opted to stay in the car since we only had one umbrella.) I spied a great deal on satsumas. I asked the vendor, "are they seedless?" He replied, "only people from the Midwest care if they are seedless." I've never heard that before. If that's true, then why do they sell seedless oranges and other fruit everywhere in the world??? I admitted I was from Chicago and he said, "I could smell the Midwest on you." This was getting too weird for me so I grabbed my bag of satsumas and hurried back to the car. Goodbye Santa Barbara, I will never see you again!

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Love Haiti" Challenge--Matching Donations

In response to the earthquake in Haiti, my church in partnership with NewSong, JustOne, ICC, and Sakura has set up a special fund to bring relief to that country via World Vision. ICC and Sakura have set up a matching fund of the initial $10,000 worth of donations. Information is available when you visit our website(s):

World Vision has created a unique website for this at:

Thank you!

Sick? Got a Minute? Then get thee to CVS MinuteClinic

For an entire month last fall, I was pretty sick and needed to go to the doctor. Every day I would think I would get better the next day so I held off making an appointment. I didn't even have a GP so that was another reason I didn't go to the doctor. Finally when it was so bad I could barely stand up, I called in favors from friends (a nurse and a doctor) and they diagnosed me and the doctor wrote me a prescription. They also convinced me NOT to take the antibiotics left over from a friend's baby's ear infection that I had been offered. I really wish I knew about the CVS MinuteClinic back then.

I got the chance to go in on Wednesday, “Children, Pregnant Women, and Families Flu Vaccination Day,” to get a complimentary H1N1 flu shot at the local CVS MinuteClinic. Not every CVS has a MinuteClinic and I had not been to this particular CVS. When I went in, I didn't even look around the store but headed straight to the pharmacy. After waiting in line to speak with a pharmacist for 10 minutes, it dawned on me that maybe the MinuteClinic wasn't a part of the pharmacy. I had assumed that it was because every other time I've gotten a flu shot at a drugstore pharmacy, the nurse or pharmacist would simply step out of the pharmacy into the adjacent waiting area and administer the shot. It is a bit disconcerting since there are people pushing their shopping carts and looking at you getting a needle stuck in your arm. I know you don't take off any clothing, but it does seem odd to get a medical procedure done while people are walking past. Then there is that risk that a freak runaway cart will hit you right as the needle punctures the skin making the needle break off and getting stuck in your arm. People call me paranoid, but stranger things have happened.

I looked around and saw the sign, MinuteClinic, at the back of the store. There was a separate room and it looked like a real doctor's office. Hurray! Privacy and no risk of getting impaled by a runaway cart! The check-in procedure was really simple. You put your basic information into a computer outside the office and wait your turn. There were no people ahead of me so the entire experience lasted five minutes from my entering my info to getting the shot. The nurse practitioner was very nice and told me that she was giving me the thimerosal free shot even though I told her there was no way I was pregnant.

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced a nationwide effort to encourage more Americans to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, and is urging everyone to protect themselves and their families by getting the H1N1 flu vaccine. CVS MinuteClinic is charging $15 for the H1N1 flu vaccine. I like the MinuteClinic because it is very direct in its pricing. They do take most insurance but if you don't have insurance or want to pay cash for some reason, the rates are very reasonable. I don't know any doctor visit that would cost less than $62, the cost of a minor illness exam at MinuteClinic. I'm glad to know that next time I need to seek medical advice right away, I have the option of going to MinuteClinic.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Great Gallon Give--Got (Free) Milk?

Yesterday I attended my first blogger event of the year. Got Milk? sponsored a fun-filled afternoon at the W Hotel in Los Angeles. (This had me confused for awhile until I realized that the hotel was actually the same hotel in Westwood where I had gone for my mother's day massage last year. Even though I've been here for over a year and half, I'm still confused about LA addresses. Sometimes you have to write Santa Monica, sometimes Los Angeles. I think the GPS is as confused as I am.) The event launched the Great Gallon Give and revealed the latest celebrity spokesmom.

When we got there, R was hungry and attacked the remainder of someone's lunch left out on the W patio area. Someone clearly trying to keep their new year's resolutions because the fries were untouched, and before I could catch him, R ran over and ate some of them. That boy is super fast when it comes to food, yet he's still in the 15% for weight. Why? Because he doesn't drink enough milk. I'm still doctoring his milk with ovaltine and yogurt so I'm especially glad when there are events like this that feature milk and milk products. H, on the other hand, will drink strawberry milk over any other beverage. I'm not sure, but I think it's genetic. When I was growing up in Korea, all I drank was strawberry milk. When we came to the US and they asked me in school what kind of milk I wanted, I said strawberry. I thought I had moved to a very backwards country indeed when they informed me that that was not an option. Thankfully, the event yesterday was flowing with strawberry milk.

Rebecca Romijn was revealed as newest celebrity spokesmom. She spoke about the importance of milk to her as a mom and also described the details of the Great Gallon Give.The new program will give away hundreds of thousands of gallons of milk – the equivalent of more than three million servings – to help raise awareness of the important role milk plays in building strong families. The “Great Gallon Give” will also make it possible to help families in need by passing a virtual gallon of milk to friends on Facebook. For every virtual gallon passed, $1 will go to Feeding America, the country’s largest network of food banks that serves more than 25 million people facing hunger in this country. Go to to find out if the Great Gallon Give is coming to your town. Local events are planned for 20 markets from coast-to-coast. In total, more than 200,000 gallons of milk will be distributed. While there, you can register for a chance to win a year’s worth of free milk. The first 125,000 people to enter the contest will receive a downloadable coupon for free milk with purchase.

At the event, I noticed that Rebecca is incredibly tall. I'm sure she is drinking milk to make sure she stays that way and doesn't succumb to osteoporosis. She looked amazing for someone with infant twins. Her husband Jerry O'Connell was also there. At one point, I was standing five feet away from him. I didn't want to be uncool and start talking to him about how I was such a big fan and that I thought Crossing Jordon was an awesome show that was cut before its time. I didn't see anyone else go up to him to ask for a photo so I didn't bother him. But it was Woody, in person!

One of the activities at the event to teach kids good health practices was herb and vegetable planting. H planted rosemary and dill. Hopefully one of the 30 seeds H threw into the flower pot will grow into dill. H's favorite activity at the event, by far, was the ice skating on synthetic ice. His friend Chip ran out onto the "ice" and was dancing around like a natural. H could barely stand up. After a couple of times around I determined the problem wasn't his lack of athletic ability but 1) his skates weren't on properly and 2) the attendant had put them on the wrong feet. Once those two issues were taken care of, H was out there attacking the ice with Chip. It didn't feel like ice, sadly, but at least it was harder to fall so H and Chip could thoroughly enjoy their first ice skating experience. Unfortunately since I was out there on the "ice," I couldn't snap photos. And when I did get off and let H skate on his own, R was so upset he wasn't allowed to skate that I had to hold him to prevent him from running out there.

Anita Renfroe was also at the event promoting her new book, Don't Say I Didn't Warn You, but there were too many things going on and I didn't get a chance to talk to her. Check out her very funny youtube video. Anita sums up all the things that a mother says to her children in a three-minute song called "Momisms" set to the William Tell Overture.

The boys and I had a blast at the event. They were full up on chocolate and strawberry milk, vanilla milkshakes, and cheese at the event and didn't need an elaborate dinner when we got home. I am so glad I Got Milk?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Terrible Three and a Halfs

Why didn't someone warn me about the existence of this phenomenon? I thought I was finally out of the woods with H, that he was finally starting to calm down, but no. Maybe it's because of the additional attention R is getting now because of the shenanigans he's pulling as part of the terrible twos, but something is definitely making H act up.

It's all about getting his own way. It was a little bit cute when he refused to leave the security area at O'Hare until he got a full pat down. (I got one because I was wearing R in the baby carrier and they had to test the straps.) It was borderline funny when he decided he was not going to get in the car to go home from the supermarket because Stewart had refused to put him on the belt at the checkout lane. H said he wanted someone to buy him and he would not go home until that happened. He finally accepted my explanation that I had bought him, and that he had been on sale that day for $5, when ordinarily he was $10. We then proceeded to walk the mile home from the supermarket, since Stewart had left for home with the perishables ages ago. And when I write walk, I mean, one of us walked and the other one was carried piggyback all the way home.

But absolutely unacceptable was his decision to start unbuckling the seat belt to his booster seat and getting up to stand at my shoulder while driving. Not only did he take this dangerous step for his own life, but he even unbuckled the seat belt attaching R's car seat to the car. I had no choice but to take drastic measures. I put out a plea on my local mom's message board asking for the loaner of a toddler car seat. I switched out H's seat for the toddler seat while he was at preschool and the reaction was immediate. H knew that he was being punished and felt the humiliation keenly. He cried and protested that the baby seat was for R, and that he wanted his seat. I told him that he was being punished and he assured me that he had learned his lesson. I congratulated myself for disciplining without spanking or yelling and, after one trip driving around town, switched H back to his booster seat.

Do I never learn? The lesson lasted all of two and half days before he unbuckled himself again. This time he said he did it because he had to pee. I know he's going to be conflicted because of all the mixed signals but basically we pulled over and I put him into the baby seat. Now he's going to think it's ok to pee in his pants, but at least he will be alive. There is definitely something to be said about living in a city where you don't need a car. At least you can avoid all the car seat drama. With R, I've basically thrown in the towel and promise him an M&M every time he gets into the car seat if he stops fighting me. Of course, now I've conditioned him to expect this and am rewarding bad behavior, but I'm just about done.

I have to fight them all day long, whether it's because they want to drink juice instead of milk or turning off the TV after their allotted viewing time or brushing their teeth with--horror of horrors--mint toothpaste when the tube of their favorite Trader Joes fennel one has been left at grandma's house (and why is this toothpaste sold out at the nearest 3 TJ locations?). And the worst part of it is, my good friends who have two boys (8 and 4) tell me that it doesn't get better. The boys keep fighting each other and fighting with the parents, just on different things. I really wish I had had close friends with sets of older kids before I had mine. The only close friend I knew had a daughter who was so angelic and smart that she blinded me to the nitty gritty that is toddler angst. I don't know if I would have done it differently, but at least I would have gone in with my eyes open, knowing I was in for full frontal assault.

To think, this all happened just in the first week of 2010. Does not portend well for the year, or the decade. I need a dose of Joel Osteen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chicago in December, Yes We Did

My collection of random thoughts about our Christmas Chicago trip.

I know I said I wouldn't do it, but I figured it was better this year than next year when I would have to buy four seats instead of three. The plane ride there wasn't so bad considering Stewart was seated in a different row. Don't ask. R slept most of the way so that was a lucky break. Unfortunately he fell asleep before I could put him in the Ergo so I couldn't relax my arms for fear of him waking up.

We got there on Christmas day before the crazy terrorist stuff happened. I didn't even know about it until the next day because I didn't watch the news that day. It was only gradually over the next couple of days that I realized how narrowly we missed the heightened security measures and the air of nervousness that travelers must have experienced later that day. Whenever I go to visit my parents I feel like I'm visiting a different time/space continuum. It was only on December 17, 2009 that my parents finally got cable after having been in this country since 1982. That must be some sort of record, right? In the past when I visited them, I had no idea what was going on in the world other than the snippets they would convey to me from the Korean newspaper. This time at least I had the option of keeping up with the world.

My sister J had taken off the week so Stewart, the boys, J and I went downtown to spend the night. We had lunch with my good friend Ariel at the Signature Restaurant on the top of the John Hancock building. This is a tip, if you want to go see the view from the John Hancock building, just have a meal there because then at least you will get a meal as well as the view. Tickets alone to the top cost $15 for general admission. The buffet lunch wasn't fine dining (we all agreed the bread was the best part; H refusing to eat anything other than 3 rolls), but it was a fantastic deal when you figure we would have had to eat lunch anyway.

I had all these good intentions to go to ice skating and walking down Michigan Avenue but realized that we would not survive outdoor activity. We did walk a little bit down Michigan Avenue to catch the free shuttle trolley to Navy Pier. We saw this very strange children's show that was a combination of juggling and bobblehead theatre. The juggler, Brad Weston, did a great job but then the bobblehead theatre had everyone scratching their heads. I think it was supposed to be ironic, but it wasn't quite appropriate for a children's show. Case in point--the first short sketch was a mama trying to soothe a crying baby. She tries various things but eventually gets so fed up she kicks the baby off the stage. Then the mama puppet says to the audience something like, children if you are bad, your parents will get even. After that first sketch, half the audience cleared out. We stayed, hoping it would get better or at least make sense, but it didn't.

Afterwards, after much screaming about wanting to go on a train ride (vetoed because the track was literally a twelve foot circle), we forced H to go to the Chicago Children's Museum. Of course, after one second in there he forgot all about the train ride and absolutely loved it. It was probably the best children's museum I've visited, and I don't say that lightly, having been to the children's museums in Manhattan, New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. I think cold climates have better children's museums because they know that their visitors will be there for a long time. We were there just over two hours and there were still so many rooms we didn't get to explore. That's definitely a place to take kids if you are in Chicago and need an indoor play space. The water play area is especially well done.

The rest of our time in the Chicagoland area was spent shopping and eating and sometimes working out on my parents' treadmill. Sadly, we didn't make it to Bob Chinn's or Superdawg. We went out to play in the snow exactly 1x because H decided that was enough. He said, "I don't like snow. I like no snow." So there goes my dream of introducing the boys to the snowy wonderland of my childhood. Maybe next time, I'll take them in July when the sticky humidity makes you yearn for the coldest winter day. After all, no lifetime is complete without a visit to the Taste of Chicago.

The plane ride back was tiring, but at least we were all seated in the same row. Thank God I don't have to travel with R as a lap child ever again. Happy New Year!